To this day, when someone wants to do something on the Internet, they basically have two options: either they search for information through a browser and a search engine, or look for an app that facilitates that action. Both are limited.


Practically from the beginning of the Internet, when a user wants something from the Internet, either he knows the web address that he will use, or opens a browser, searches and, hopefully, finds what he needs. Despite the efforts and progress made to date, the difficulty is to give context to the search. From where it is searched, for what date and time the search is relevant, and especially, what is the intention of the search. It is context information that would help to give precision to the obtaining of information.

Most apps are de facto hidden for potential users

Apps, however, are available on the user’s mobile. And within the same ecosystem, installed apps are what make a mobile different from another. The number of available apps is hundreds of thousands. Today more than 2 million apps in each of the Apple and Google stores, and a projection of 5 million in 3 years. The way to reach them, either directly (you know which app you need), or through the search of the stores of each ecosystem.

Today there is an increasingly intensive use of Apps to the detriment of the browser. This is due to their greater convenience of use and their better access to that context. But there is the same problem of discovering than at the beginning of the Internet. The main tool to discover an app from among the hundreds of thousands that are part of a store is a simple search inside that store. Most apps are de facto hidden for potential users.

We are at a time when the Internet, both through search engines and apps, can be tame. In a way that allows information providers and apps to connect directly with users, and vice versa, users connect directly with the information and apps they need. Thus, browsers will be left for residual use, and access to functionality would focus on a few apps with artificial intelligence.

Think Twitter, for example. I am visiting Vancouver, I like going to listen live music tonight and I tweet inquiring about a live music site. Most likely, even with many followers, is that it has no answer. Because probably the tweet only reaches my followers, who probably do not know Vancouver, and the few who know it, do not know live music venues. But if you are a live music venue in Vancouver you could subscribe to that intention (that of a tourist looking for a live music venue), receive the tweet and answer on the spot. Not a search engine would respond, but the club connecting directly with its target audience. In addition, in the same response may appear context information of the suggested location or groups that act that night. In short, the tweet would give access to all its context.

Understanding the context and the intention of the user are two basic pieces

Another example could be the mail app. Continuing with a situation similar to the previous one. I get an email from a friend to go to a concert tonight at a local music venue. The application interprets the intent of the email and gives access to the context. The email application understands that the intention is an invitation to see the music group, in addition to understanding that in the mail there are several entities (a music group and a venue). So it searches directly on the Internet and provides contextual information. It shows group and venue information without leaving the mail. Even access to reservation or purchase the tickets.

The calendar is another of the apps that can assume a central role since it has an implicit temporal context. Within the calendar, I can indicate that I want to see live music on a particular night, or that I want to travel on certain dates. Travel is one of the most searched concepts on the Internet. Many trips begin their planning on a calendar and then move to the browser or native apps to search for a flight, hotel or activity to do on those days and reserve them. But all that could be done within the calendar app. This could be integrated with travel agencies, airlines, and hotels. Filling the agenda and booking the activity at the same time.

Many of these new apps could search contextually when discovering the user’s intent. So you would not need to go directly to search the Internet or get the app that can do that function. These apps are starting to appear in the form of virtual assistants. The Siri, Alexa, Google Now and Cortana. In addition to having the web and the mobile app deployed, you have to be able to respond when the user says, “Ok Google, I want to buy a movie ticket” -if you sell movie tickets. And within your own app, you should be able to understand the user’s intent and offer services beyond your direct scope. Understanding the context and the intention of the user are two basic pieces in the different ecosystems in which we are going to have to be present.

by Jose Luis Calvo